ZEISS OTUS 28mm f1.4

Camera - - AWARDS -

You can see the chal­lenges in this cat­e­gory, can’t you? At one end is Canon’s LED-equipped macro lens for its EF-M mir­ror­less mount – as bril­liant a piece of lat­eral think­ing as you’ll see any­where – and at the other the tow­er­ing per­for­mance of Zeiss’s Otus se­ries 28mm… quite pos­si­bly the best prime lens in the world. Then there’s two bril­liant ex­am­ples of why the Mi­cro Four Thirds for­mat is the most ex­cit­ing place to be right now in terms of what’s pos­si­ble with lenses – one a su­pertele­photo and one a fast widean­gle. And prov­ing it doesn’t al­ways need Zeiss to hold its hand when it comes to de­sign­ing and build­ing high-per­for­mance lenses, Sony’s first G Mas­ter creation for the FE mount. The Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 Macro is about to come into its own now that there’s some­thing re­ally in­ter­est­ing to put it on – the EOS M5 – and it not only has a pair of built-in LED lights (which can be used sep­a­rately), but also an op­ti­cal im­age stabiliser which is very handy when shoot­ing at 1:1. If we awarded a run­ners-up prize, the Canon would get it. How­ever, it was a bril­liance of an­other sort that won through in this cat­e­gory, namely the op­ti­cal per­for­mance of Zeiss’s Otus 28mm f1.4. The Otus se­ries lenses are works of art – both out­side and in­side – and the good news is that they can be en­joyed by the users of both Canon and Nikon D-SLRs. Ex­ter­nally, the ta­per­ing bar­rels look gor­geous while the flush-fit­ting fo­cus­ing col­lars are re­ally just Zeiss’s en­gi­neers show­ing off. Zeiss mod­estly calls the 28mm model “the world’s best wide-an­gle lens”, and we think they’re pretty spot on. The 28mm fo­cal length is of­ten over­looked in favour of 24mm, but it’s ac­tu­ally a lot more ver­sa­tile while still be­ing nicely wide-an­gle. It’s also en­abled Zeiss to de­sign a 16-el­e­ment op­ti­cal con­struc­tion which de­liv­ers a near-flaw­less im­age qual­ity. Cen­tre-to-corner sharp­ness is ex­cep­tional even at f1.4, and there are no is­sues with ax­ial chro­matic aber­ra­tions, spher­i­cal aber­ra­tions or dis­tor­tion. Flare and ghost­ing are also well sup­pressed and while there’s some vi­gnetting wide open, it’s only slight and elim­i­nated by f2.8. While this lens is ra­zor sharp, it also pro­duces beau­ti­fully smooth out-of-fo­cus ef­fects so you can make full cre­ative use of the su­per shal­low depth-of-field at f1.4. And, of course, f1.4 also ex­tends your low-light shoot­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties so the Otus 28mm com­pli­ments its per­for­mance with a sur­pris­ing de­gree of flex­i­bil­ity for a wide-an­gle prime. It’s pricey, of course, but it is the best so, if money is no ob­ject, you re­ally shouldn’t set­tle for any­thing less.

PRIME LENS – THE FI­NAL­ISTS Canon EF-M 28mm f3.5 Macro IS STM Olym­pus M.Zuiko Dig­i­tal 300mm f4.0 PRO Pana­sonic Leica DG Sum­milux 12mm f1.4 ASPH Sony FE 85mm f1.4 G Mas­ter Zeiss Otus 28mm f1.4.

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